Key Points:

Police are hunting two prisoners who escaped from a police van in Horowhenua today.

Levin police Senior Sergeant Willie Roy said the men escaped custody while being transferred between Manawatu Prison and Levin District Court.

The pair forced their way from the van on the corner of Plimmer Terrace and Ballance Street in Shannon, and a member of the public saw them flee.

Mr Roy warned members of the public not to approach Debden Wamoanaa, who faced charges of serious assaults.

The 26-year-old, a 1.75 metre tall Maori man of medium build, was described as violent.

Mr Roy also urged caution with the second man, Jay Solomon, who faced charges of aggravated robbery.

Solomon, 18, was described as Maori, 1.6 metres tall, with a slim to medium build. He is also described as having a mohawk style haircut.

Mr Roy asked any witnesses to the escape or anyone who had had contact with either of the men to contact police.